Are you prepared for an emergency?
January 08, 2021

We don’t like to have to think about natural disasters, blackouts, blizzards, or floods. Unfortunately, these natural risks and hazards do happen across our country and we must be prepared in the event of their occurrence. Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada recommends that households be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours, while emergency workers assist those in urgent need. By taking a few simple steps today, we can all be ready to face a wide range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere.

The first thing that you can do for your family is to prepare a basic emergency kit. You have some of these items already. However, the key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. It is also important to ensure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag, or suitcase with wheels in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet. Everyone in your household should know where the kit is located. The basic items you will need to survive for 72 hours include:

  • Water – at least two litres of water per person per day
  • Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars, and dried foods
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio First Aid kit
  • Prescription medications, infant formula, and equipment for people with disabilities
  • Extra keys for both your home and car
  • Some cash in smaller denominations, such as $10 bills and change for payphones
  • A copy of your own Emergency Plan, including contact information

Some other items you may also wish to add to your emergency kit include: a change of clothing and footwear for each household member, a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member, a whistle (in case you need to attract attention), garbage bags for personal sanitation, toilet paper and other personal care supplies, safety gloves, basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, work gloves), a small fuel-driven stove and fuel, as well as two additional litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning.

Every Canadian household also needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency, as your family may not be altogether when a disaster occurs. You should plan how to meet or contact one another and discuss what you would do in various situations. Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada has prepared an Emergency Preparedness Guide (available at: that you can customize with your own information to complete your plan. You should keep this document in an easy-to-find, easy-to-remember place (for example, with your emergency kit).

When it comes to emergencies, we all have a role to play, as well as the government. Different levels of government respond progressively as an emergency escalates and their resources are needed. Local fire, police, and paramedic teams are normally the first to respond. They manage most local emergencies. Every province and territory has an emergency management organization (EMO), which manages large-scale emergencies and provides assistance to municipal or community response teams as required. Federal departments and agencies support provincial or territorial EMO’s as requested. They also manage emergencies that involve areas of federal jurisdiction, such as nuclear safety, national defence and border security.

By preparing a basic emergency kit, as well as developing an emergency plan, we can all ensure our families and households remain safe and secure in the event of a crisis.